As a Midwesterner through and through, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about mountains. Sure, you read about them in books, see glossy pictures in National Geographic, maybe watch them in the background of “Legends of the Fall,” but until you’ve seen on in person, you can’t really get what makes them so special.
I remember the first time I saw a mountain in real life– I was visiting a friend in Sedona, Arizona and had arrived after dark, unable to see anything of the scenery. Getting ready the next morning, I peering through the small window in the bathroom and had this wonderful and bizarre realization that I was showering with a mountain. It was a surreal experience– coming from the glacially-flattened states, I finally got that mountains are something totally different. They occupy space with a kind of presence that you just don’t get with anything else.
Recently I came upon the work of Cathy McMurray, a Portland-based painter, and was immediately taken with her fascination with mountain forms. Like the ones I met in Sedona and subsequent acquaintances I’ve made with ranges larger and smaller, her work captures the mystery and presence that only a mountain can occupy on the horizon.